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NLD Pennant League, Group 5

Ripley Rhinos 2nd XV 25pts

East Leake 2nd XV 31pts

RIPLEY Rhinos seconds slipped to a narrow league defeat at home to East Leake seconds.

Skipper Craig Culshaw had a decent side but, as is the Ripley way, left the available first teamers on the bench and gave the whole squad the chance to play.

The visitors began the stronger and created themselves a first score after only five minutes. Ripley struck back with some strong drives from No. 8 Ben Smith and hooker Dave Kemp taking some different running lines to make yards against the East Leake defence but it was mostly the visitors conceding early penalties at the ruck situation that saw Ripley gain territory.

A strong run from Whysall took them into the 22 and eventually second row Liam Porter was on hand to charge over the line from short range. Full back Langley slotted the conversion.

The scrum was a fairly even affair as was the lineout but East Leake were gelling better as a team and their attacking had more fluidity.

They scored two more tries before the half hour to extend their lead to 19-7. Langley then continued his good game by notching a penalty from 35 metres into the wind to reduce the half time deficit to 19-10.

Coach Carl Whitley rang the changes at half time with Steve Cresswell coming off the bench as a welcome return, and the likes of Keith Buzzard and Evans coming on.

The Rhino team began to work more as a team and the low tackling of fly-half Rupert Tighe and replacement centre Danny Rymell stopped the visitors from having that avenue to attack.

The visitors were working to the referee’s demands of them at the break down and consequently Ripley had to work hard for any attacking territory. Whysall continued to look a threat with ball in hand but Ripley couldn’t get him enough room to show his pace.

A break from Evans up the wing saw him draw the full back in before chipping perfectly for Langley to accelerate onto and score the try to bring his side closer at 19-15.

Stung by this, Leake upped their game and created a straightforward overlap through quick recycling work to score a converted try that made Ripley’s job harder.

A break from the sky blues with ten minutes to go was finished off by Ben Smith from short range but again the conversion was missed to leave Ripley 6 points behind at 26-20.

Rhinos still had the bonus point to chase and they managed this with the last play of the game as Langley was on hand to round off his good scoring day with his second try.

This was a decent game were East Leake’s teamwork from the first minute was the difference between the sides as it took Rhinos a while to get the team gelling. Winger Matt Whysall just pipped full back Adam Langley to the BAB Plumbing and Heating Man of the Match award from his team mates.

Rhinos firsts are the team in action this Saturday as they host East Retford 2nds in a rearranged Pennant League game; kick off 2.30pm at Mill Hill School.